"Let's face it, the work situation is really bad here," says Ramos." I know that a lot of people regret being test engineers, saying it was a bad choice. Companies won't hire anybody over 30 for test engineer positions so people in their 40s are looking for another career—more long term, less stressful and less overtime."
Ramos says his friends and coworkers tend to think they aren't entitled to anything—they aren't even aware that they are entitled to overtime; typically if someone complains, their alternative is just to go somewhere else.
"Employees in the tech industry such as test engineers historically walk off the job if they are terminated—they don't think about recourse—they don't realize there could be any legal repercussions," Ramos adds.
Ramos predicts there will be more test engineer layoffs—particularly because product development has moved offshore. "Companies used to ship software every quarter but not anymore," he says. "They roll it out, customers find glitches and it gets repaired on the spot. Ten years ago, designing and development was here but now there are mainly small companies with 20-30 people, and the actual building of the product is done offshore. So those people, including quality assurance and test engineers, are working overtime--it has become standard."
It doesn't take a crystal ball to predict the demise of the IT industry—take a look at history regarding hours worked and overtime. "Up until the 1920s people only took Sundays off and during the depression there was a 30 percent unemployment rate," says Ramos. "Of the remaining 70 percent, half of them only worked half-time. Companies wanted to hold onto the experienced workers so they kept them on and paid them only half-time. That is why we have a 2-day weekend now. Many employees only worked 3-day weeks.
We are already seeing this happen now: a few weeks ago in the state of California, state workers don't get paid for one Friday of work per month."
Luckily, not all employers are created equally. One job posted on the Internet has received comments such as "this job has a crazy amount of perks—like overtime," and "This company is offering paid overtime… fortunate because many companies do not offer this."
This is what the test engineer posting says regarding overtime: "Any time worked on the weekends or during an off day (if you work a 4 day schedule) is straight overtime. The catch is that if it is during the 5 day work week, you have to work the first 5 hours over 40 for free. Then you get paid for all the hours after that. You also have the option to save your worked overtime hours as "comp time" and then use it later on just like vacation time. So if you work a lot of weekend you can end up with much more vacation time than the standard 3 weeks that you get each year." Not quite the perfect 40-hour week with overtime pay, but better than most…